I recently finished self-publishing my first children’s eBook. My husband, CJ, and I co-authored the book and I did the illustrations. I plan to share a detailed blog post about our experience soon. We used a children’s eBook template by Joel Friedlander and had over 100 beta readers. Therefore, I was excited to find out that one of my recent coaching clients, AJ Cosmo, is a children’s eBook author with over 40 books published on Amazon. He has had great success and therefore I wanted to interview him on our blog.
Whether you already publish children’s eBooks or are interested in doing so, I hope you enjoy this interview with AJ!
1. Welcome, AJ, and thank you for agreeing to do this interview with us. Tell our readers about yourself and how you got started.
I started writing children’s books way back in 2011, or a hundred and fifty years ago in Internet time. I’ve been writing stories in one form or another for the better part of twelve years. Originally I wanted to be a screenwriter and moved to Los Angeles to do just that but, as these things go, I found myself without employment in one of the most expensive places to live. I’ve also drawn most of my life, doing a few years as an airbrush artist in a mall, a great educational experience. Add to that a sense that I wasn’t being creative in the way that I wanted to be, and I started looking for outlets.
I’ve always had a child-like perspective. I like monsters and aliens and dinosaurs, you know eight-year-old boy stuff, so I naturally gravitated towards writing stories geared for that demographic. Once I started creating these books, I couldn’t stop, and three years later I have over forty titles on the Kindle.
Here are just a few of my book covers:
2. What would you say your favorite part of what you do is?
About a year ago I was teaching a class on filmmaking to a local Boys and Girls club. One of the kids was bored during a shoot and he asked about what I did for a living. I gave him my phone and “The Monster That Ate My Socks” to read. The kid sat there and read the whole thing aloud to himself as the other kids worked. I kept one ear on him, listening to him laugh. He loved it. Here was this kid who didn’t read much, in fact he said he hated to read, enjoying my work. There have been few other moments as rewarding.
As a writer you desire to communicate and achieving that, whether it be a single person or a million readers, is the satisfaction that we crave.
3. How difficult are children’s books to write?
Extremely. I’m not exaggerating here. There seems to be this preconception that children are simpler than adults and therefore writers can get away with things that they couldn’t otherwise. In reality the reverse is true. Adults will trudge through a boring section if they know from experience that the writer will pay off the setup. However, a child will simply close the book and move on to something else. Children demand a high level of sophistication contained in simplicity. If you want to know how demanding their tastes can be you need only look at Pixar. Their films can be understood by anyone, but the structure underlying their storytelling are some of the best constructed plots out there. Add to all of that the complex taboos of the parent culture and you have the hard mode of writing gigs.
4. Have you noticed any common mistakes among children’s book writers just starting out?
Improvising. I’ve worked with several writers who assume that they can simply find their story as they create their book. You can do that for adult novels, since a good editor and series of revisions can uncover the story later. Children’s books don’t have room for this sort of exploration. You have to plan all aspects from the plot to the pacing to the illustrations. If you’re doing a fixed-format book, one with heavy pictures, you also have to incorporate the layout process into the writing process. It can get complicated.
5. Can you tell us a bit more about the services you provide?
I enjoy helping other writers find their voice and create the stories that they want to tell. Some people have one story in them and need help extracting that, I can help that writer go from a vague idea to a completed project. For the writers out there who want to create multiple stories, I can help them create a brand and a production pipeline to build a career on. I offer these services through one-on-one coaching.
6. What should someone planning to do business with you expect?
A kind hearted but stern assessment followed by a rigorous breakdown of tasks necessary to meet their goals. If the writer needs an illustrator, I will help find them one. If they need motivation, I can do that too. If they need help extracting an idea, then they should prepare for a lot of questions. I’m serious about storytelling and I expect anyone who is willing to contact me, and read this website, to be serious as well. I believe in the individual. Everyone has something to contribute to life and to the world- if you have a story to tell, if that spark is in you, then I can help you make that a reality. It’s not easy, but I promise you, it’s worth it.
7. How can readers contact you?
Please fill out the form below if you are interested in one-on-one coaching with AJ.
His expertise is in writing and self-publishing children’s eBooks.